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The Metal Smithery molds a mark in Ithaca

Elaan Greenfield, owner of The Metal Smithery, teaching a hoop earring class (Photo by Brianna Warrant/Ithaca Week)

The Metal Smithery is currently the only metal arts school in the Finger Lakes region. With its closure quickly approaching in December, their jewelry and knife-making classes will forever shape the community legacy for adults and children alike.

A rare gem in Ithaca

When Elaan Greenfield, owner of The Metal Smithery, became a mother, she wanted to find jewelry to symbolize her motherhood, but struggled to find something she liked. Greenfield decided to take a community college class to make it herself. That class kickstarted a new era of creation for Greenfield

After having owned a jewelry business, people were frequently asking Greenfield for classes. This is when she decided to open The Metal Smithery in 2018.

“Metalsmithing depends on who you are, many people become experts on one or two main things but I was interested in knowing everything,” said Greenfield. “It gave me the opportunity to dive into more than just jewelry.” 

Similarly to Greenfield, Olivia Ehmke, a Binghamton High School student who was brought to take a hoop earring class as an early birthday celebration said it was insightful to be able to create her own work with metal.

“This experience is making me want to pick up jewelry making,” said Ehmke.

Ithaca resident working on a stone bezel necklace (Photo by Brianna Warrant/Ithaca Week)

After the Metal Smithery, the closest metal arts school is located in Brooklyn, New York.

“There’s not that many Metal Smitheries that are not affiliated with a college or university that’s open to everybody,” said Greenfield. “I saw and heard that it was needed and wanted.” 

Ithaca’s location molded another layer of community impact within younger people and adults looking to create with metal. 

“There are not that many places in general to gather and create together,” said Greenfield. “I have people travel here to take classes from Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and even Pennsylvania.”

Making meaning of metal

With metal as a medium, it comes with its fair share of its flaws and imperfections, though sometimes flaws contribute to the beauty of the art.

“Nothing is going to be perfect when you’re working with metal,” said Greenfield. “With this medium, it’s going to be perfect in its imperfections.” 

Greenfield takes pride in seeing those who take her class creating meaning out of metal. 

“Many adults don’t have the confidence in their creativity and I’m really excited when they have the courage to come and take the class,” said Greenfield. “I’ve always focused on working on the empowerment of metal.”

Andrea Chahrour, an attendee of Greenfield’s bezel setting class, said she wouldn’t have changed a thing when looking at her finished product. 

“Sometimes it’s good when there’s mistakes and then you can learn from them,” said Chahrour. “It’s all part of the experience.”

Sarah Bassman, another attendee of a bezel setting class, brought her own stone that has a close meaning to her. 

“This is my best friend and I’s friendship stone,” said Bassman. “We went to the gem shop together and I thought I would learn to make her one, I even put her name on the back of it.”

Sarah Bassman holding up her finished product made with her friendship stone (Photo by Brianna Warrant/Ithaca Week)

Friendships as well as crafts were forged over the years. The Metal Smithery has allowed for a lot of the patrons to form bonds with their fellow craftspeople.

“Us six girls didn’t know each other before this class,” said Chahrour. “It’s nice to be able to meet people and see what other people make.”

Greenfield continued, “I think a group of people creating together is really special and unique,” 

Leaving a legacy

Greenfield has decided to permanently close The Metal Smithery in December, 2023, for health reasons, but will be offering private lessons after the closure.

Greenfield helping Bassman with her bezel necklace (Photo by Brianna Warrant/Ithaca Week)

“It’s a bum that they’re closing,” said Bassman. “We were just talking about how good it would be if someone came in and took over.” 

Greenfield said she is looking to sell the space and all the equipment inside, but has not found a buyer yet. For now, she is offering as many classes as she can before the closure. 

“It’s been a really unique thing to offer and I think it will be missed,” said Greenfield. “It’s been my baby and my passion.”

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